Sandia National Laboratories has announced that it will be the first US Department of Energy laboratory to deploy the Fujitsu A64FX, the only ARM processor designed entirely for HPC projects and supercomputers.
Fujitsu is mainly known for its business laptops, tablets and desktop computers, but is a giant in its own right when it comes to processors, having been in the business for over half a century.
Launched in 2019, the processor has 48 cores, a maximum theoretical performance of 3.38 TFLOPS, operates at 2.2 GHz and has 32 GB of HBM2 memory on the chip itself.
What makes it ideal for the HPC market is that it offers much higher bandwidth performance between memory and processor – up to 1 TB / s. Moving data to and from the CPU is by far the biggest obstacle to what researchers call exascale computing.
What makes the A64FX even more exciting is that Fujitsu wants the technology to spread to hyperscalers and the big cloud giants so that the masses can also benefit.
Since it is based on the ARM architecture, it can (and a) run Linux distributions out of the box and even Microsoft Windows.
It is considered a general purpose processor, but even outperforms Nvidia and AMD GPUs on the very important performance metric per watt. Indeed, a prototype 768 CPU is at the top of the Green500 list – the ranking of supercomputers that provide the most power per watt.
The A64FX was specifically designed to power the successor to the main Japanese supercomputer, the K, which was decommissioned in August 2019.
Its replacement – the Fugaku – is expected to be 100 times faster when launched later this year, will run on a Linux distribution called McKernel and will reach 400 staggering petaflops. The goal is to be the first supercomputer to reach an exaflop when it is fully deployed with half a million processors in turmoil.